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Podcasts - Dialogue Enhancement/Clean-up

Updated: Dec 21, 2020


It is absolutely paramount to professional quality audio to obtain the best recording possible. A wise engineer/producer once told me, you can’t polish a turd. In terms of microphones, there are a few designs that are specific to certain instruments due to their pick-up patterns, sensitivity, tones and frequency responses. The types of microphone designs are dynamic, condenser and ribbon microphones. Dynamic mics can handle aggressive amplitude information with very little distortion, they are very rugged and strong, and require no phantom power. Condenser microphones have a high sensitivity and should be used on articulate instruments such as violins, cymbals, acoustic guitars and some vocalists to name a few. Condenser mics require phantom power to function and are quite delicate compared to dynamic mics. The famous ribbon microphones also require phantom power and are generally designed for vocals and podcasts as any high input sound pressure will cause the microphone to physically burn out.

Microphones are sensitive and unforgiving; therefore, the placement of a microphone is just as important as microphone selection itself, they go hand in hand. For instance, on a snare drum, a dynamic microphone can be placed fairly close to the diaphragm whereas a condenser is more sensitive to aggressiveness and should therefore be placed slightly farther away from the action. The physical distance has an impact on the recording too, a distant mic will lose articulation and catch more room ambience while a near mic will pick up proximity and detail in an instrument.

Recording levels should read between -12dBFS and -18dBFS to allow headroom before analog saturation. A signal that is too hot will distort and a signal too low will see a low signal to noise ratio when turned up. -12dBFS to -18dBFS will give you enough headroom as well as separate you enough from the noise floor too.

Vocal nuances are often the case when recording inexperienced performers. An experienced performer knows about proximity of the voice by adjusting the distance between themselves and the diaphragm of the mic, as well as the understanding of other nuances such as plosives, lip smacks and breathes. Plosives occur when the diaphragm gets bombarded with air pressure such as the P in plosives causing distortion of the microphone. Lip smacks are a common occurrence with inexperienced performers generally created by too much or not enough saliva in their mouth. The problem with plosives and lip smacks, is they often occur in the middle of phrases and words creating a difficulty in removing them without taking away from the vocals themselves. Breathes are a little easier to remove as they occur typically in between words making it easy to delete them if necessary without causing any damage to the phrases and words. Pop filters and mic stands are both used to remove a lot of potential for vocal nuances. In conclusion, recording vocals is an art form in itself and should be practices before executed.


As mentioned above, editing skills are a necessary talent when working with anything less than professional performances. In between verses and phrases, is where dead air occurs and has all the potential to pick up ANYTHING in that room during this silence. These long gaps of empty recordings should always be removed and deleted.

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